Blake & Brass XL - Combobulate

Blake & Brass XL. Left to right: Steven Bernstein, Allan Mednard, Marcus Rojas, Michael Blake, Bob Stewart, Clark Gayton

Combobulate is an uplifting and beautiful swath of sound featuring seven new original pieces by Michael Blake. The title song is a journey unto itself with both tubas bouncing along with drummer Allan Mednard's static cross beat.

Bills in the Bow and Henry's Boogaloo (dedicated to New Orleans piano titan Henry Butler) were adapted here for the double tuba session and bring bluesy, bouncy joy to the proceedings.

A swinging and subtle Focus Pocus is a nod to tenor saxophone idol Stan Getz's landmark album Focus.

A Strange Affair is a swinging waltz for soprano sax akin to John Coltrane's rendition of My Favorite Things.

Anthem for No Country is adapted from his 2002 album Elevated.

With its polyrhythmic prowess, Michael's trip to Zambia in 2011 is at the heart of Malagasy Shuffle. Another melody, featuring both tubas playing long tones, introduces us to a new composer: Michael's son Roland.

Michael sought his previous employer John Lurie's approval to record Bob the Bob from his album Voice of Chunk. It was granted, under one condition, "don't wreck it". Michael's reading is both an understated and eloquent interpretation of Lurie's lovely melody.

Michael also premieres a memorable chorale version of Robert Burns The Parting Glass.

Expressive in it's dynamics and nuanced detail, Michael's music vibrates with syncopation, harmonic overtones and other etherial delights. His brass arrangments constructing an ideal environment that highlights his tenor and soprano saxophone playing at its very best!

Release date: Autumn 2022 on Newvelle Records

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Photo: Anna Yatskevich